Greeley never ceases to surprise me. It’s an unassuming city, better known for beef than almost anything else, but then there’s the music. From the city’s inception, it has embraced music.
The last time I visited the Greeley History Museum, I learned that the city is home to one of the nation’s longest running orchestras. The University of Northern Colorado is also well-known for an outstanding School of Music, so perhaps it isn’t surprising that Greeley has a talented pool of musically inclined people to fill out the cast at Union Colony Dinner Theater.
This wasn’t my first evening outing in Greeley, but it was my first visit to UCDT, located upstairs in an historic building on 9th Street Plaza. The current show is “Titanic,” and I had never seen a stage production of this story.
Union Colony Dinner Theater is intimate and there’s no such thing as a bad seat. The cast uses the entire room, so don’t be surprised if someone starts singing right behind you during this show.
UCDT has a straightforward menu including a chicken Caesar salad, vegetarian pasta, shepherd’s pie and two upgrades of salmon and prime rib. You order your meal when you book your tickets.
We went with the salsa sampler appetizer, and were not disappointed – the mango salsa is a real winner. The chips are out of the bag, but the salsa makes up for it. The dinner salad came with a roll, and the lettuce was fresh and crisp.
I ordered a chardonnay, and my husband, Ryan, who has been obsessed with margaritas lately, ordered one on the rocks with Hornitos tequila. The UCDT bartender has some skills because Ryan raved about this margarita for the rest of the evening an into the next day.
I had preordered the salmon filet, and having grown up in the Pacific Northwest, I’m a bit of a snob when it comes to salmon – thankfully it was cooked perfectly. I highly recommend upgrading to this delicious and savory dish.
Ryan raved more about his margarita than his shepherd’s pie, but the apple pie got high marks from both of us – Ryan liked the filling and I loved the light and crispy crust. UCDT also has very good coffee, always a plus at dinner theater.
The show opens with UCDT owner, Brandon Bill, on the piano, accompanied by violinist Alison Reifschneider. In fact, this duo provides all the music for this show, a real display of devotion by Bill to this production at his theater.
This is the largest cast for a production at Union Colony Dinner Theater. Courtesy photo.
The cast for this production of “Titanic” is the largest they’ve had at UCDT, and there are 36 bios in the playbill. The songs sung by the full cast sent shivers down my spine.
Nearly the entire script is sung, which takes a bit of time to get used to. All the musical numbers are accompanied by just the piano and violin, and with my own background in music, I believe this adds a layer of difficulty to being a part of the cast in this play.
There is little dancing in “Titanic,” but there is a bit of humor, despite the grave ending we’ve all known about since childhood. The character development is excellent, and by the time the ship goes down, I felt attached to several of the individuals on stage.
As I’ve mentioned in other dinner theater reviews, there’s also a scene stealer or two in every musical, and “Titanic” was no different. Kahlie Metz, plays Alice Beane, a middle-class passanger who is obsessed with the celebrities onboard the ship. Metz has good comedic timing and keeps the mood in the theater light with her comedic talents.
The owner of the Titanic, Bruce Ismay, saves himself by boarding a life raft in front of women & children. Courtesy photo.
John Sonsa, who was also our waiter, plays the overbearing, power hungry owner of the Titanic. Thankfully he’s much nicer in real life than his character whose onstage outbursts startled the audience more than once.
I also enjoyed the performance by Mike Pearl, cast as ship steward, Henry Etches. Pearl has a consummate onstage presence that really shines.
At times, the musical abilities of the cast of “Titanic” stands out above the acting talent, but this is a solid musical that connects with the audience on multiple levels. I’m excited to see what is in store for UCDT with Brandon Bill at the helm.
“Titanic” plays through August 26, so book now before it sails away. Up next at Union Colony is “Once Upon a Mattress,” “5 Course Love,” “39 Steps,” and “Hello Dolly.” Learn more at www.ucdinnertheatre.com or call (970) 352-2900. You can also find UCDT on Facebook.